Tuesday, November 17, 2015

New Location - Mason Street Studios

I'm now completely moved into my new studio at Mason Street Studios deep in the heart of the Village of West Greenville.  I'm so excited!  It's located at 2 Mason Street, right off of Pendleton rd., the main drag in the village, and we're behind the Flatiron building where Patricia Kilburg, Janina Ellis, Joseph Bradley, Darin Gerhke, and the Greshenkos have their galleries.  Teresa Roche's Art and Light is right around the corner on Aiken Street, one street over and Midtown Artery, Dabney Mahanes, Julia Shackbie Hughes, Knack, Crave, The Village Studios, Village Traders, Naked Pasta and the Art Bomb are all within walking distance.
I held my first show, "Savoring the Beach," featuring oils, landscapes and encaustics on cradled wood, on September 4th for our monthly first Friday gallery crawl and we had a great turnout.  Upcycle artist, Joyce Reece, complimented the ocean theme with her gorgeous collection of lighthouses, as well as some of her Native American and fall landscapes.  What turned out to be a crawl ended up as the Summer September Storm party of 2015, as a raging thunderstorm with high winds that toppled trees and hail kept our visitors a captive audience.  So we ended up with impromptu songs, live art installations, coloring contests and acting from our visitors, not the residents.  They entertained us! I was lucky to see a lot of friendly faces and meet some new friends.  We ended up with four people who worked at Roger C. Peace Hospital, four people interested in art therapy, investors, realtors, nurses, business owners, and other diverse occupations, all weathering the storm and having a good time, many staying right until closing.   Since then its been a busy time painting and doing art history research. I've finished a number of landscapes for a future show, morphed and distorted like I do. Perhaps they are more like dreamscapes. I also painted 8 to 10 heads. I'm not sure why, I may have been inspired by the advertising for the " Making Faces" show held at the Greenville Center for creative arts. Part of my desire to paint faces was the pursuit to capture emotions. I kept striving to create expressions which viewers could relate to. I guess my 15 years working in the psychological field fuels my constant interest in psychology, Carl Jung, and human nature contributors to my fascination for emotional content in my artwork. So for November First Friday I held the show, "Heads - A Struggle Towards Authenticity." We had a great turnout considering it wad Open Studio and rainy and it was fun because Joyce and I have been joined by two new artists: Freda Beaty,Va jewelry designer and Alice Rattatree, a n illustrator of children s books.

Friday, October 23, 2015

A Fascination for Faces

While I enjoy painting a variety of subjects, I have to say that I'm probably more fascinated with faces than most. I go through stages, just finishing up a period of painting landscapes and for some unknown reason decided to switch to faces after painting about twelve landscapes. The challenge is ramped up to portray emotion moreso than with any other topic, including full figures. I'm constantly amazed at how one small stroke around an eye or two worry lines in the forehead can totally change the emotional effect upon the viewer. My most recent series, in oils, ranges from small 5x7 canvases to at this point 16x20. I am a huge believer in expressing a wide range of emotions. I never painted pieces that would just look pretty or nice in a room. I tend to use art ti make people think. I want viewers to wonder about meanings and am often pleased to create a piece that's rather disturbing. I'm a co creator with my subconscious and often can't foresee the end result of a project. Most of my efforts are a means to discover something unknown about myself so what appears to be a portrait is often a symbol or metaphor of a state of mind, an issue, something I need to address or something I'm coping with. I started this series before the art show, "Making Faces" at the Greenville Creative Arts Center. It's a highly diverse and great show by eleven local artists, some I know and some whose works are in my own or my daughter's collection. I'm a huge fan of Dabney Mahaned. Who is probably my favorite figurative artist of Greenville. It was great to see her portraits of artist,Glen Miller. With whom Dabney exchanging projects to paint each other. What a great way to get to know our fellow local artist than through another local artist's eyes?

Monday, August 24, 2015

The Horse in Art, a Jungian View

For 17,300 years, dating back to the cave drawings in Lascaux, the horse has been featured in art. Even up until today, the horse is a common theme having survived so many trends and isms as a subject. Is it the athletic beauty of its physicality , its role as a companion in sport, now that its no longer a neccessary helpmate, or is there something illusive but intrinsic, an essence artists continue to try and capture? I ask all this since throughout my artistic life, the horse has appeared in both my art and dreams. A few years ago, when I first started painting horses, it coincided with a series of dreams and I came to realize that to me the horse symbolized spirit. So it doesn't surprise me that I'm painting a series of horses. This is at a time in my life when I don't feel like I have complete control since I have to have CT scans every three months to see if my cancer has returned. Its hard to plan things such as trips or signing a lease for an art studio since if I have to start chemo I will quickly be too weak to drive or paint. I think this is why I'm returkning to horses as a subject. To me they represent spirit and freedom and are also, in my view, messengers from the subconscious. In Jungian writings, the horse is a complex archetypal figure and an important ally once acknowledged and assimilated. Jung connected it with the primal and intuitive side, especially when hidden in the subconscious. the horse can represent a means to reach into the subconscious world to confront the shadow and access the energy and awareness we can find in any exchange with the unconcsious forces we have relegated to the unconscious realm. Once in the realm of shadow work within our dreams, creative imagination or art, we are often confronted with paradox. When we work with the horse archetype, we are harnessing our energy to deal with the inner conflicts we encounter and the desire to paint horses can be sign we are ready for such a journey. Because, every three months, I have to wonder if my cancer has returned, I find myself trying evaluating my life. As I did, I turned to art which serves to ease the worry but also as a means to communicate internaly. The first horse scene of this series I chose to paint wet on wet on wood. I just started layering on colors without a subject in mind. The orange horse appeared and shortly after the blue figure who I considered a man in a hat. It didn't take long before I recognized the vague figure as Picasso from a documentary I had watched a few days earlier. I decided to leave him vague, as if a ghost was speaking to me from the past, perhaps a symbol my unconscious choose telling me to continue using art as a means to reach the subconscious as he had. the architectural lines of the ancient town were evident in the grain of the wood so i brought them out to remind myself that internal work involves heeding not only archetypal aspects but also history, ancestors and those who have lived before us
James Hillman and Sonu Shamadashani , their noteworthy book on Jung's "Red Book" describe how Jung's message through his own art, was an attention to the dead and how such recognition taught him much about his own internal life. When dreams and images, such as those an artist may repeat in their art, are mirrored to historical theme, Joan Chodorow, notes in her book, "Jung on Active Imagination," we view the larger picture and see what it can mean to our ownn future. The second horse I painted in oils in a wet on wet technique and it is more highly colored and expressionistic than my usual style. It looked to me like a harlequin once he was finished and the harlequin has appeared in my art with a horse before. The harlequin to me is representative of the mercurial figure of Hermes, the trickster or communicator all depending on one,s level of awareness and moral state. The sunrise was inspired by the photograph of another artist, Susannah Melee. and the finished painting seems to be influenced by Picasso's work, although I had not seen many of his paintings of horses.
In another oil painting, this one larger and square, I realized that this final draft looked I finished. I had painted a reddish brown horse, rearing up in a vague sort of mystical setting. I painted this piece without, plan, forethought or any idea about message. I just kept standing back and viewing what appeared. The areas surrounding the border came from mistakes where I removed excess paint when finishing the horse and layered it over the sky and what eventually even became the ground. This is not my usual method at all. I also let the painting sit for days drying. Usually I work wet on wet since I'm in a hurry to complete a project. But on this one I decided to see what would strike me. I did fish for ideas, looking up paintings of horses by famous artists and paintings by artists who were familiar with Jung. Most of the rearing horses I found were either threatened or being threatened. After seeing some of the alchemical paintings by Anne Mccoy, the daughter of Andrew Wyeth, I found one she did with a very beautiful horse. However it was not a testing horse. Then a few days later I saw a painting of a woman offering a tray of food to some people. Something about her pose struck me and I realized I needed a woman reaching out to the horse. At first I thought I would paint the same pose but it ended up with the woman comforting the horse instead. She also came out looking fairly ephemeral do the underlayer if paint and I looked ger that way, looking almost ghost-like. It seems to be second step in my interactions with a horse. In the first painting I did at least five years ago, a female figure is offering a mask to a blacvk horse, which in my Jungian way of thinking is my ego trying to place a persona s mask on myself. In two even earlier paintings, I depict alone up a mountain with a huge skeletal face in the foreground. And in a later painting a horse is barely visible outside a window while a woman inside burns letters. Three two paintings seem to me know to represent my detachment from spirit, while me recent one, still in progress is representing an aspect of myself trying to comfort spirit, which is fairly accurate since I await results to see if my cancer returns and am in the midst of moving out of my art studio. Jung considered the horse a symbol of the mother in addition the the subconscious. And her aspect could symbol the maternal care one needs when confronting the confusion and chaos one encounters with.the shadow. We may have to find our personal internal mother to deal with some of the issued we unravel during any sojurn into the subconscious realm.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Gods and Goddesses, Icons and Idols Series

jI am currently working on a new series of artwork including acrylics, encaustics, oils and watercolors on wood, canvas and paper. After reading more by Carl Jung and on Jung, I decided to return to this series which I started over ten years ago. Ever since junior high I've had a fascination for mythology which has been strengthened by my 20 plus year study of Jung, Joseph Campbell and more. I'm including Icons because they serve the role of mythology in conciousness and leaps in awareness due to their archetypal power. Psychologists, artists, poets, authors, comic writers and film directors have long mined the powers of archetypal images and how their immediacy can enrich a story as people identify with and acknowledge their inherent qualities. In Jung's Red Book and his concepts, he encourages us to explore our own personal archetypes with both their positive and negative qualities. Even though I've been painting this way for years, I am shocked when I discover a new archetype. In my new series I explore these themes as a guide to personal discovery but as with all archetypes, they invite universal speculation. I ran the gamut from Greek and Egyptian mythology to relatively contemporary icons such as characters from the T.V. series, "Fringe," and James O'Barr's comic, "The Crow." I only realized weeks after completing these latter two, that they related to the theme of a figure who continued after death. First is the character,Eric Draven, who came back from the dead as the character, the Crow. And secondly, the scientist, William Bell, from Fringe who avoided death by going to an alternate universe. I realized that I was choosing these subjects as I tried to comprehend aspects of my life and my changing psychology after surviving cancer. It only dawned on me a few weeks later that I was trying to make sense of my mood swings from euphoria at being alive a feeling good to fear and trepidation every three months before the neccessary CT scans to see if the cancer has returned. I am typing this post from my phone so can't upload photos but will as soon as I can.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Less than one week and counting to our grand opening at Studio Unknown and  we're crazy busy with all the preparations.  It's so great to see dreams put into reality of an arts venue where anything can happen.  We already have 25 names on the waiting list for our guest art wall.
Ashton Higgins, photographer, will be our first guest artist and i met him when he climber over three second floor balconies in my daughter's apartment complex to let her know I9 was there and waiting.  It was quite a hilarious story, with me yelling up at her to "open up", throwing rocks and keys until he same to the rescue laughing at this old woman making a scene.  Come to find out he and his wife are both artists.  she went to Limestone College and will have a guest wall later this year, and the friend with him on the balcony is also an artist. Who would have thought it three doors away from where I lived for nearly a year. I volunteered to make them a piece of art for thanking him for risking his life, and when they invited me in, they explained they were artists and collected art.
Odd they way the universe has of introducing people!
Don't have photos of his usual take on things yet, but will post it as soon as he sends it along.  He is busy as
can be with framing and getting his show ready.
We're always brainstorming and we've come up with some more ideas events.  there will definitely be poetry readings at the First Friday in may and we plan to have a chess table and poker table set up in the pavilion for those who enjoy a mental challenge. When visitors are not looking at art, listening to poetry or just hanging out at one of our two fire pits, we hope they'll be coming up with ideas for events.  
We did find out from a friend of resident artist, Kevin Anderson, Leroy of Judson mill, that out building was not only the general store to Brandon Mills Plush mill but was also a kickin' pool hall.  Always packed.  So the concept of games fits right in.  In the future, there are plans for night time golf and night time bocchi ball and who knows what else.
It's interesting how these buildings, built circa turn of the century (Brandon Mills was built in 1899) evolved.  the Village Studios I lived in at one time in the Village at West End was at various times a furniture store, a mortuary and a carpet store. (the metal measuring marks are still on the floor in the lower level). There are even rumors it was a brothel, but I haven't found proof on that one yet.
Over time, we're going to learn a lot more about the history of our section of the Textile Center of Greenville.  Up until the late 1970's and 80'sd it was a bustling community with many shops and services offered along Easley Bridge Rd. Hwy 123. Chuck's barber shop was right next door to where Studio Unknown is located and I've yet to find out what was once located two doors down.  A working upholstery shop is still in existence.
The story about the two Clock restaurants side by side is interesting enough, but that's for a later time, - maybe around the fire pit.
About seven hours later...
 Just got this cool info on our Studio unknown art studio/gallery building when I put out a call on the Brandon Mill Facebook Page.
thanks Kojn, Ken and Gary!
  • Joan Elizabeth White I will check with my dad, I know about a barber shop somewhere, in that area not sure, but if it is the one I am thinking about dad, may have pictures of the inside of the barber shop not sure my memory shot these days,,,,,,,,,,,,,I know that there was a barber shop on Pendleton once a long time ago, where my oldest got his hair cut, and my youngest got his first hair cut and a week later the guy retired and soon they went out of business.......................
  • Joan Elizabeth White Wishing you Good luck with your Biz
  • Ken Adams $ drug store. On down where Chuck's B
  • Ken Adams OOPS In the coroner building where Hall's Up. shop is there was a drug store. Next door to Chuck's Barber shop there was another barber shop ran by Joe Fulbright. He lived in the large house on West Ave. I remember when he went to $1.25 for a haircut and I thought that was hiway robbery. On down the street there was a pool room but it was hard for a kid get in there. Joe has a brother that does or did cut hair in Dunean. Sorry but no pictures.
  • Gary Huff Tommy Fulbright has the shop in Dunean, I think the building you're asking about was at the Judson crossing.
  • Ken Adams Joe Fulbright operated the barber shop at Judson Crossing

Monday, April 20, 2015

Participation Mystique

I'm now fully moved into my new art studio alongside, my true friend of over ten years, Szag Randahl and like-minded new friends, owner of Studio Unknown, Bruce Miller and Kevin Anderson.
We have been working non-stop getting the place ready for our opening on First Friday, May 1st, 2015. Bruce has been working like a madman repairing the over 100 year old textile mill general store which houses our four studios, and Cerbu music studio and a killer common area. 
As Bruce describes it, when you open the front door, it's like Betelgeuse, you never know what you'll find.  Out back is paradise and the middle is Castle Annandale. And how true it is.  Bruce has a love of all things medieval as I do so the place indeed feels like a castle.  All the windows have been filled with a cement block walls so its dark until we turn on the overhead fluorescent lights.  I didn't like them at first and knew they would change my colors when I painted but I just take a break, step out into paradise and recheck my tweaking.
The minute I walked into this place I felt a sense of peace and an odd sense of purpose.  Odd I say, because during the past year when I battled with ovarian cancer, I didn't think about things like purpose.  I just took one step after the other on the days I could walk, lived chemo to chemo and binged watched all the TV shows I missed because pre-cancer I didn't watch any TV except the news.
Now that I'm in remission, I feel this incredible push to create - painting for now but maybe poetry later. I want to communicate what I can't say in words because cancer may have been the best thing to ever happen to me.  Prior to my diagnosis I was often depressed and at times suicidal.  I couldn't handle the fake aspects of our societies, the rampant greed, the constant abuse of the people who just want to get by. Even immersed as I am in Carl Jung's theories, I found little comfort when I looked around me.  What good is the subconscious when society just gobbles up everything that is humane? Pre-cancer, I stopped writing, stopped painting, even stopped reading, having lost faith.  The last thing I gave up was music, which was hard, but I didn't want to feel anymore. And music, especially IAMX which I listened to over and over, 100's of times on a constant loop. because the angst in Chris' voice was the angst of the world.
I didn't feel anything when I had cancer.  I never cried.  I never thought I would die.  The doctors told my daughter I almost did three times.  I grew to hate my house, my collection of things I'd collected over the years, each one having either a symbolic meaning or emotionally-charged memory.  i even hated all my books and wondered why I surrounded myself with material things when nothing mattered at all.  I became a shell, vacant and a burden on my family, a hopeless constant reminder laying on the couch of a body without a soul. Both my daughter and I were pretty sure that even after the promised remission I would never come back.
But I did. When Dr. Griffin said he'd have me in full remission in nine months, I thought he was nuts.  I tried to stop chemo twice, since quality of life for a meaningless shell of a person is zilch and I didn't want my daughter, Beth, my son,Jeff and my granddaughters, Kendall and Deven to remember me that way.  But Dr. Griffin was wrong, in November of 2014, I went into remission, six months after my first diagnosis.  Sure I was still tired and he told me he was stopping the chemo three months early. Even though the tumors were gone, he always did a little more just to be on the safe side. But he was afraid the chemo would kill me.  I'd already lost 42 lbs. and been hospitalized five times for blood clots in my lung, dangerous magnesium loss, a collapsed lung. By January 2015 I was listening to music again.  Yep, you got it IAMX.  I started painting and couldn't stop.  Eleven paintings in less than three months, the most prolific I've ever been since I started painting at age 52. I discovered a new found love of life, every minute of it, every nuance, the sounds of the Canadian geese as they flew overhead at my daughter's where I lived while sick, the taste of cheese or chocolate, the hugs of my granddaughters.
My subconscious erupted like a waterfall after a sudden streak of thunderstorms heavy with Gulf tropical water or a fissure opening in the earth releasing all the poison gases held back for years by compressed shale, limestone, granite. I felt the slow resurgence of knowing that one is universe and the universe is our core.  We can tap into anything and everything - sure it can come at a price like your debilitating horrific insomnia, but as with any shaman, you must go into the cave, suffer the peeling away of layers of conditioning until you see that pinhole of hope that leads to layers and layers and layers of meaning, memory and insight that we pack away just to make it through the daily routine of living.
My son, his girlfriend, Janine and I watched you flail yourself onstage in Atlanta in 2013.  We watched a shaman overtaken by energies no one could explain or understand.  We acknowledged it with each other, were swept up in your passionate powerful overwhelming need to "express"  to interpret what your subconscious was so bent on releasing.  You were thin as a rail, and so driven, so forcefully driven you woke us up somehow to turbulence like what they say Van Gogh painted before scientists could discover its true volume and direction.  You tapped into something we can't explain - only experience and your self- sacrifice, opened up those who were eager and ready.
I've done a great deal of studying on shamans, their sacrifice, their self education, their need to disappear into the cave and read the nightmares. They are chosen and often would love to relinquish that life for one of normalcy and banality.

The psychiatrist, Carl Gustav Jung" had a good bit to say about the creative person - when he says "artist" or "poet" he includes musicians, dancers, actors, - anyone whose need to create is so powerful it runs their daily life. 
"The biographies of great artists make it abundantly clear that the creative urge is often so imperious that it battens on their humanity and yokes everything to the service of the work,"Jung writes, "even at the cost of health and ordinary human happiness. The unborn work in the psyche of the artist is a force of nature that achieves its end either with tyrannical might or with the subtle cunning of nature herself, quite regardless of the personal fate of the man who is its vehicle...." Carl Gustav Jung wrote. The secret of artistic creation and the effectiveness of art is to be found in a return to the state of 'participation mystique' – to that level of experience at which it is man who lives, and not the individual...Art is a kind of innate drive that seizes a human being and makes him its instrument. To perform this difficult office it is sometimes necessary for him to sacrifice happiness and everything that makes life worth living for the ordinary human being.
The specifically artistic disposition involves an overweight of collective psychic life as against the personal. Art is kind of an innate drive that seizes a human being and makes him its instrument. The artist is not a person endowed with free will who seeks his own ends, but one who allows art to realize its purposes through him. As a human being he may have moods and a will and personal aims, but as an artist he is “man” in a higher sense—he is “collective man”—one who carries and shapes the unconscious, psychic life of mankind. To perform this difficult office it is sometimes necessary for him to sacrifice happiness and everything that makes life worth living for the ordinary human being….
The artist’s life cannot be otherwise than full of conflicts, for two forces are at war within him—on the one hand the common human longing for happiness, satisfaction and security in life, and on the other a ruthless passion for creation which may go so far as to override every personal desire. The lives of artists are as rule so highly unsatisfactory—not to say tragic—because of their inferiority on the human and personal side, and not because of a sinister disposition. There are hardly any exceptions to the rule that a person must pay dearly for the divine gift of the creative fire.
It makes no difference whether the poet knows that his work is begotten, grows and matures with him, or whether he supposes that by taking thought he produces it out of the void. His opinion of the matter does not change the fact that his work outgrows him as a child its mother. The creative process has feminine quality, and the creative work arises from unconscious depths—we might say, from the realm of the mothers. Whenever the creative force predominates, human life is ruled and molded by the unconscious as against the active will, and the conscious ego is swept along on a subterranean current, being nothing more than a helpless observer of events. The work in process becomes the poet’s fate and determines his psychic development. It is not Goethe who creates Faust, but Faust which creates Goethe.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Studio Unknown Opens for First Friday

Studio Unknown

  unbolts it’s locks, oils it’s hinges   and throws open its doors

for its First First Friday

Come check out resident artists        Bruce Miller, Gail Gray,
Szag Randahl and Kevin Anderson
  in their studios
914 Easley Bridge Rd, Greenville, SC

Not far from The Village at the West End
    a few blocks up Easley Bridge Rd. from Ryan Calloway’s Creative Ironworks  (going away from downtown)

On the right, look for the word Art on the white awning over the old textile general store at the intersection of Easley Bridge Road and Ledbetter Sreet, Greenville, SC 29611.

                                                                                Open 6-9 pm
Friday, May 1, 2015                                                      After Hours Party   9 pm until ?
also open by appt. 864-534-7858

Thursday, March 26, 2015

New Art Studio at Studio Unknown

There are a couple of  reasons I haven't posted lately.  The main one is that I now have a new art studio!  Yesterday, Szag and I booked our studios at Studio Unknown at 914 Easley Bridge Rd. (Hwy. 122) in Greenville, SC!  We are so excited.  It's a great place and easy location not far from the main drag at Pendleton in the Village of West Greenville, just a little bit further than Ryan Calloway's blacksmith shop and art gallery studios at Creative Artistry on Andrews St.
The other reason is that I've been insanely painting and framing to get submissions ready for three big juried shows in Anderson, SC, Pickens, SC and Artisphere in Greenville.  Today I deliver "Diana" and "Textile Mill Owner" to Anderson Arts Center. 
I moved in a few things yesterday for my studio, but Bruce Miller, the owner, is building me a new door and wall so I'm not going to bring the big things yet and get in his way.  The place is awesome with four studios and a public space with lots of walls to hang art, two separate seating areas, a dining table and four chairs, a TV, stove refrigerator, stove, sink, microwave, two crockpots, and a coffee maker!  So we can hold events and serve food and chill out with the other artists when we're not working!   There is also an outdoor area with a table, chairs, a fire pit and grill.  So we're all set to really interact with each other, other artists, patrons and visitors.
I'm so excited - it is the coolest place and Bruce, the owner, is an incredible person, a great artist with a background in art and music.  He  was an inker for Marvel Comics, even did Spiderman for years since he was a very young man and also has a lengthy career in the music interests, playing in a number of bands, touring and opening for the likes of Bad Company and Styx. He has lots of cool stories and we think alike about polytheism, synchronicity, loves Jim Morrison like I do.  His favorite artist is Dali, just like Szag. 
I did a thrift store run and found a cool chair for $20.00, a small shelf for $2.00, a wicker medicine cabinet for storing paints for $7.50 and a wastebasket for $1.00.  I painted them all turquoise sea blue to make a short of Jane Coslick look.  I'll be bringing my red futon and chair that I had in my studio at the Village Studios along with a funky styled metal high top chair in seagreen which I can sit on to paint from my table top easel, my two easels, a set of storage drawers, a large standing cabinet that someone was throwing out in my neighborhood so its free, and a crazy table with a lighted top that I found at the side of the road a year ago in my neighborhood. I'll also upcycle and paint these two pieces turquoise sea blue,  And then there are all the paints, frames, canvases, wood boxes and boards I've been hoarding since I recovered from cancer.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Textile Milltowns Oil painting and Encaustic

I grew up in a textile mill town in New England.  Lowell, Mass.  was known for its textiles and was
established to build the textile industry in the 1826 and was known as the cradle of the Industrial Revolution. because it had the Merrimack River flowing through its graceful flatlands, with canals branching off into different direction,. the site was chosen so the textile factories could be powered by waterwheels. The additional introduction of a complex railway system, allowed the raw materials to be shipped to the factories and the finished goods to be shipped all over the north.  The farm girls from what was once just farmlands of Chelmsford, Mass  moved into the mill row houses and worked in the mills.  By the 1860's, Lowell was the largest industrial complex in the United States.   Immigrants form all over the world camne to work in Lowell, over the years, starting with the Irish escaping the potato famine in the early 1800's who came and built the mills.
Everyone in my family worked in the mill, my mother, myself (at the age of fourteen, working in the summers during high school), my ex-husband, and I at Joann Fabrics in Lowell, my son, at J.P. Stevens in Greenville, SCall except for my daughter.  I worked in the office as did my mother of JoAnne Fabrics, enjoyed it and made a good salary for my age.
My then husband who had worked in the mill since 18 years of age, started off as a sweeper and worked his
way up the ladder to become the vice president of a textile company over the years, was offered a job at SACM in Mauldin in the Greenville, SC area.  We moved to the south when I was 29 and my son was 8 and my daughter 10 months old. When we arrived I discovered Greenville was another huge textile town, once again established because of the Reedy River and all its canals.  Greenville and Lowell are about the same size and have a similar historical feeling, although Lowell is a good bit older and has preserved much more of its history due to being on the National Register of Historical cities.
Whereas Lowell housed its workers in row houses, boarding houses and eventually three story Victorian homes where three generations of families lived, Greenville established its mill villages.  I now live in a 1920's mill village house.
So long intro - take a deep breath, when I paint somehow textile buildings, mills and water towers pop up in my backgrounds. 
This happened with textile mill owner, which started out as a figure painting of my ex-boyfriend, Danny Johns of Staines, England.  He came to visit my after two years of courting me in letters and poems for a year, then another year of weekly three hour phone calls.  We became engaged after he came for a visit.  I shot this photo of him wearing a foreign officer;s coat he found at the Army/Navy store.  He stood surveying the Reedy River and the city of Greenville at the time, unknown to me, he was considering whether to move to Greenville or not. Just before he left after we'd been all over Greenville, visited Atlanta and saw Ministry as guest of the band in the sound booth, had a large medieval costume party and fell in love, he asked me to marry him. Unfortunately a few months after he arrived home, he realized he couldn't leave England and he broke off the engagement.
When I painted him in oils, the face came out quite different and quirky, the head too large and too slim for real9ity, but I paint quirky figures, I like them distorted. In the past, artists often distorted features in art, especially of the gods. For example in India, temple sculptors would exaggerate the breasts and buttocks of the female gods to portray her sexuality. I like smart men with good minds, and Danny was one of those so I guess I subconsciously exaggerated the head. I painted this in a five hour session.  It's not finished but is too wet to make any more changes.The background ended up being more mills than stores and upscale hotels.  I thought he looked like a figure form the past and he seemed to be to be a little arrogant, serious and looking like someone from the 1700's-1800's.  So I decided he was a textile magnet who built mills around the city.
Another piece of art that turned into a textile theme a cityscape of mills created on an 11X14 piece of cradled wood in beeswax encaustic paint.  There are two paintings beneath it that didn't work, one that was a cityscape collage in Germany and the other a painting of an old man on a city street.  The texture is very thick and varied on this board since I painted wax over paper and many layers of wax. It has a very abstract effect but I like it because it reminds me of the mill yard on a hot day when we would walk away from the mill to downtown to get lunch in a little diner with the best french fries.    

Diana oil painting completed

I've finally finished my oil painting "Diana."  This piece probably took four-13 hour days over a period of
three weeks.  I allowed a good bit of drying time in between some of the painting sessions because I had responsibilities watching my three year old granddaughter, Deven.

This painting is 36X11 on a wooden board I found at the SOS thrift store.  I love to upcycle when I can, and have found working on wood easier for painting faces than working on canvas. 

To complete the painting, I did some more work on her dress, finished scumbling the zinc white over dioxiide purple and finished her right hand, Rembrandt was known for scumbling  and tthe technique of scumbling is often used for the backgrounds for portraits, allowing the face to stand out more than by being distracted by the details of an interior or landscape background.  Although I've used this technique a good bi in figure's faces, backgrounnds and landscapes, it's a bit hard to describe.

Marion Boddy Evans says on her website -

"Scumbling can be done with opaque or transparent colors, but the effect is greater with an opaque color and with a light color over a dark. When you look at it from a distance the colors mix optically. Up close you'll see the brushwork and texture in the scumbled layer."

The hand is still not quite the way I'd like it, and I decided not to put anything symbolic in her hand, but I decided to stop because it was not as noticeable once I toned down the color.   I'm pretty happy with this piece.  It's more than I expected working on such a large scale for me and working in oils, which I love but which is always a challenge, especially when I tend to paint s many  critical areas wet on wet, as I did the face.

Paul Easton described the effects on his blog -

"It was fun to try the new technique for me of using a wash   I've done it in furniture refinishing and wall painting, but never on my oil paintings. Atmospheric. Translucent. Radiant. Painterly. Chances are if you’ve ever applied these descriptive terms to an oil painting, you were looking at some of the effects scumbling can give you."

Absinthe Night - Radical Changes, Session Two

It always surprising me how much a painting changes during the process.  Even in a painting completed in
one day, painting wet on wet in oils, the painting evolves as the artist acts as critic during the process.  I tend to recognize discrepancies in my work at intervals, sometimes by moving the painting to a different room, where the light is different and not reflecting off the wet paint and sitting at a different perspective.  I'll watch TV or read a book, periodically looking up so I can hope to view the painting as an observer who hasn't been looking at it during the past few hours.  This is the only way I can get perspective and sometimes I realize I'll have to sleep on it and view the painting in the morning in order to see it with news eyes.  That's the only way to view it for, looking at a if fir the first time.
While painting "Absinthe Night", an 18X24 piece in oils on canvas, I am constantly making radical changes.  I changed the round table to square, altered the figure on the far left by enlarging his body and rubbing out what was a decent face of a 9 to 12 year old boy, reshaping the head and starting the face all over to try and make him look over 21 years old. I also scrubbed out the face of the red-haired woman on the right and turned her head more three quarters than side view. I broadened the bodies of the two figures in the middle and started to flesh out their arms more.
Standing back I realized I didn't like the background color so changed it to a different and lighter shade of green than the door.
The room is slowly becoming less and less like my living room and more like a room I've never seen before. This saddens me a bit but what might look good in my house, is not working with the somber colored clothing of the figures.  So far I've left the curtains as they stood at the end of the first day, but now I'm not very happy with them any more and may change them but haven't yet figured out what color and what sort of
atmosphere do I want.  With  brighter color curtains I'll create a more exciting kind of vibe, but I see Absinthe as a drink one would imbibe what one in a dark place, kind of on the sly, and while my living room has copper colored metallic looking fabric, the room is much darker in real life than the palette I used.
On the third session of the next day, I painted the second figure from the left based on a writer friend who is part Cherokee.  Somehow he ended up looking more Middle Eastern or Spanish and I can't quite yet figure out why, so don't know what changes to make.  The second figure on the right who is standing, is based on a female writer friend,  but once I completed her face, she only looks slightly like her.  And the female figure on the far right, which represents a younger self-portait looks more like a Victorian woman.  This is not surprising since I've painted and drawn many Victorian women and love the era in art.
I still have more work to do on the eyes of the two men on the left, and in adding the glasses, bottles, trays, silver spoon, sugar cube and other items related to the Absinthe ritual on the table, as well as items on the shelves. 

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Absinthe Night, new painting - process

So I took on the challenge of creating a painting including four figures.  Not my usual style.  I used an 18X24 canvas and blocked it out with pencil first.  I didn't follow most of my pencil lines but they gave me a sense of where to place my figures.  The painting is based on actual evening I spent with members of they Reedy River Rats Writers Group based here in Greenville, SC Charleston.   One night after our writers meeting at Coffee Underground, we decided to go back to my house.  I had recently received in the mail a bottle of Swiss Absinthe, this was in 2007 and it was still illegal to sell Absinthe in the United States but you could purchase it from other countries and have it shipped.  I had already found four wonderful absinthe glasses at Goodwill that looked just like the ones in paintings by Degas and  Vuillard, and I had been gifted with a silver slotted spoon upon which you place the sugar cube to produce the louche.  It was a fun experience completing the ritual of achieving the louche talking about writers who wrote about absinthe, as well as artists.  I wished I had taken a photo.
And I'd always wanted a turn of the century painting of Absinthe drinkers, having seen a few, and been fascinated by the concept of the Green Fairy since reading about Absinthe in Poppy Z. Brite's book, Lost Souls.  Her husband now owns the restaurant The Green Goddess in New Orleans where every dish has liquor  I'd even found a chapbook by Alestair Crowley on the subject and was fascinated by the culture.
So when I was scrounging around for ideas for larger paintings, the idea just popped into my head one morning in that zone somewhere between asleep and awake.  Thanks time zone change for this short period of confusion and illumination.  
I started out painting the table in my living from which we served our drinks.  It's heavy wood, kind of
Viking looking and round with studs.  But after painting it in, it had no perspective (not my strong suit).  It looked as if it was standing on the side of the tabletop.
So I looked up lots of absinthe paintings from France for the turn of the century and found cafes and tables and after seeing the way Degas painted a white table in "L", I decided to change the table to a rectangle so I could put a leg on it for perspective. I had to use a lot of paint to make the changeover, and reinforce the wood planks on the top.  But it worked! This also gave me more room for my figures to crowd around.  I blocked in the figures, painted their clothes and then started working on heads.  I completed the far one on the left.  But he ended u[ looking like a 12 year old kid.  I can't have a 12 year old kid drinking absinthe. So I dabbled with the background, put in the green door which sits behind my couch where most of us were sitting back in 2007.  And stared at the painting.  It was now about 11:30 last night. I also put in the face on the figure on the right with red hair that's supposed to be me.  But it was all wrong so I scrubbed it out and will let it dry overnight.  I fiddled a little with it some more started putting in the background and the curtains (Which look more like those at Coffee C nderground in the India-influenced room, so the interior may end up being a blend of Coffee Underground and my living room, since the table looks like on of theirs too.  I ended up going to bed at 1:00 pm.
This morning I.  I started at 7 am and scrubbed out the neck and face of the kid and worked until 10:10.  He's finished, I think. I also worked on the background some more painting the walls a mix of grey and yellow trying to come up with the beige that;s in living room.  Those walls have a base coat of beige but then there are dark greens, dark blues and copper dragged down from the ceiling like the screen set at a NIN concert I went to circa 2008.
So far I've used 15 brushes and a palette consisting of zinc white, lamp black, sienna, yellow ochre, lemon yellow, vermillion, viridian, Payne;s grey, violet and English light red. 

Monday, March 9, 2015

Absinthe, Art and Challenges

I'm very excited.  I was able to do a lot if painting over the weekend.  Am close to finishing, "Diana" my oil painting on the 36"X11" wooden panel.  Just need to fix her left hand when the paint dries.  And then I completed a small piece, "Paul,"  a sepia toned oil on wooden panel in three hours (with a few touch ups later in the day) as I left it on my new easel and kept examining it for flaws.
I painted 13 hours on Diana on Saturday with a few breaks to get on Facebook, Blogger and Tumblr.
I like Tumbler because it has so much art to check.  I got the idea from artist, Tim Speaker, of the Art Bomb, who makes posts from his art studio on it.  I love keeping up with his work, because he's one of my favorite artists to collect.  I have a piece of his in my bedroom and love it.
Then I have to start thinking out going larger for two juried shows I'm trying to get into. My son gave me a gift card to Michael's for my birthday do I went planning to get small things like paint.  But they had a clearance section of open back frames on sale for ridiculously low prices and they weren't damaged.  Just the last of their style. I found a gold 18X24, regularly priced at $99.99 for $20.00, a 16X20 gold  frame with carved accents, regularly $49.99  for $10.00 and an 11X14 blue wood frame regularly 39.99 for $6.00.  They also had canvases on sale so I bought three canvases to fit them.  And I'm ready to start the next two paintings.  Can't today because I'm watching my three-year old granddaughter, Deven today.  We're painting on wooden pocket books for her doll today along with a bird feeder for my porch.
I searched for ideas for my large pieces and came up with an image of a past boyfriend, Danny Johns from England, whose photo I took as he overlooked the Reedy River downtown.  It will give me a chance to do some figurative work as well as a cityscape in the background. It's a whole different color palette so I can get out of that rut.  It's moody winter picture because he came to stay with me in November,  and more subtle an some in tone so I won't be painting in my more jewel tone colors.
Then last night, just as I fell to sleep, I thought about all the Absinthe drinker paintings I love from the turn of the century by in Paris by Van Gogh, Degas, Vuillard, Picasso, Lautrec.  So very many and I've always wanted one.  So I'll paint my own from when we had a writer's meeting at my house and I introduced my friends and writing support system, Brian, Becky and Chris to Absinthe.  We did the whole sugar and water ritual to achieve the louche and it was a pivotal meeting.  This attempt will me quite a challenge since I'm used to painting one figure instead of four and I haven't done many paintings of interiors with all the detail requires.  So it will be a lot of fun.  Plus painting glass bottles and glasses is a challenge in its own right.  
I can't wait to start tomorrow although I'll be interrupted to go watch Deven while her mom goes to an appointment.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Inspiration from Munch,Modigliani and Van Gogh

I'm not sure about other artists but I realize that when I paint I subconsciously draw on the works of previousartists.  I know in many studios, young artists were taught to copy the classical paintings, but it may be now that people think of it only as copying someone.  I believe that if a piece of art touches you, makes you feel something, it's a pivotal energy in your subconscious.  So when I go to paint and let the brush and pigments lead me, the result can be a piece that looks like a rip off of a well known artist. sometimes I deliberately use the works of famous artists inspire me, such as Burne-Jones and Waterhouse, knowing that I'll never have the technical skill to paint like them but trying to use some of the effects I observe in their work. But other paintings only end up reminding me of another artist after they're finished.  I have many books on artists that I've found at our local annual library sales over the years.  Nice heavy coffee table books with lots of full color plates that I got really
cheap because they're heavy.
Three of my favorite artists which had a powerful influence on me are Edvard
Munch, Amedeo Modigliani, and Vincent Van Gogh.. Although they're styles and subject matter are very different, they both affect me in some way.  Munch is more of a visceral feeling, whereas I admire Modigliani because of the skin tones of his nudes and I love the long necks. Two of my paintings painted years ago were highly influence on an inner level by these artists. 
For my piece The Red Madonna, I realized later that the tilt of the head, the long neck and even some of the coloring was a similar to Munch's "Madonna" and Modliglian's "Jeanne Harburton with Necklace."  My technique and skill level are very different but it's obvious I was influenced by their works to me, even though at the time I was just trying to paint a red-headed Madonna.  Being brought up as a Catholic as a child and going to Catholic schools, we were Taught, the Madonna. Jesus' mother was who we should pray to as she had great influence over her son. I'm not a Catholic anymore, but a polytheist and Mary is still a strong archetype in my personal mythology.    .
 Another painting, by Munch had a subtle effect on me. "Sunset in Paseo with Karl Johann,"  was a particularly frightening painting to me. Even though there is a crowd,
I felt a feeling of fear and isolation when I first saw it in a book.
While I painted only one figure on a deserted street, the buildings reminded me of Munch's work and the same feeling of isolation was predominant.
Perhaps my subconscious even focused on the dark silhouette of a figure in the background and that's
why in my painting, Alone," I painted the single figure with his back to the viewer.
On the other hand, my painting, "Sleeping on Your Side of the
Bed" was a direct choice to paint my bedroom with a crooked bed after the break up of an important relationship. When  I saw Van Gogh's "Vincent's Bedroom in Arles" I knew I wanted to try and mimic his style and paint my own bedroom just as it was. It was a cathartic experience, the crooked bed representing how wrong if felt to sleep on my ex-lover's side of the bed, alone. While the technique isn't wonderful in this piece it's still one of my favorites after seven or eight years.  The nude on the wall is actually a painting of my ex-lover which
hung in my bedroom at the time. The nude figure looks more like a Munch than anything Van Gogh painted, so I guess I borrowed from all of them.
I'd love to hear from other artists about how you are influenced by artists from the past in either style, subject matter or technique.
I know we're all supposed to be our own person and develop our own style, but I have to wonder, why not be influenced by these people who can touch us over the years and miles through nothing but paint on canvas or wood?
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